Saturday, 30 January 2010

West Side Story at St John's International School and various other ramblings

First of all, wow. Events like tonight's never cease to amaze me - what can be done by a bunch of, well, kids really - even though they probably would prefer not to be called that. I can only imagine how hard they all worked and for how long, and launch across the blogosphere a massive well done to the dedicated teachers who no doubt poured into the production every available drop of energy, adrenaline, and patience, and then some, and then some more. I hope you are as proud of yourselves as you deserve to be.

The acting was great, the dancing was impressive, the music to a professional standard. The group singing was fab, and where some of the solos faltered, I got the impression that the singers - who proved in other places that they definitely could sing - were out of their ideal range.

Also, call me an uneducated Brit... well, actually, don't call me that: I'm reasonably well-educated, just hopelessly behind on all things American since I've only started giving the Land of the Free a second thought in the last six months (and yes, West Wing, Aaron Sorkin, Bradley Whitford, blah blah)... but anyway, I had never actually seen West Side Story, and kept wanting to break out into "oh, so that's where this song comes from!". Thankfully for the aura of sophistication I was trying to project in case there were any marriageable American men in the crow (there weren't), I managed to restrain myself.

I thought it was a great musical, though, and managed to do the whole love story-within-a-bigger-picture thing that I so love (West Wing, Aaron Sorkin, Bradley Whitford, Janel Moloney, blah blah...), questioning America and its values and (broken) dreams - the kind of thing I am just fascinated by these days.

It's the kind of thing I'd like to do with my writing. I will probably blog on this in more depth at some stage, but here's my dilemma: I'm writing a novel, the plot of which is basically a doomed love story, and I want to write it well, in a literary fiction kind of style, and to have real substance to it, things worth discussing. I want it to be the kind of book to which Guardian Books might devote fifteen seconds of their Podcasts in passing on a particularly slow day. (Well, obviously, the kind of book that wins the Costa prize would be even better, but I'm going for achievable goals here.)

But it seems to be these days that you can either write a story about love, call it chick lit, make the cover bright pink and the ending sugar-sweet, or you can write a novel in exquisite prose, raising deep issues, making readers' pulses quicken and have them reaching for their pencils to underline particularly elegant turns of phrase. (Or is that just me?) What happened to doing both, like Jane Austen and Henry James? Is it really no longer possible in these enlightened times?

Answers on a postcard please, or just in the comments box provided. Which doesn't really have the same ring to it, but does have the advantage of being a little more practical, and slightly quicker.

Anyway, I'm off to google the lyrics of "I want to be in America"... (Appropriately. But that is a another subject, for another day, and another blog post.)

1 comment:

nanniestone said...

Glad you enjoyed West Side Story...when the movie came out in the 60's it was my favorite and I HAD to have the Album of all the songs.. If U loved tghe play..U will adore THE MOVIE.....